NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia is now officially the first state in the South to legalize possession of marijuana.
The new laws went into effect at midnight Thursday.
“There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the new laws going into effect July 1. I’ve heard of a lot of gatherings and parties that are going to taking place,” said associate attorney Kelly Cournoyer.
Cournoyer works for Toscano Law Group. She said adults over the age of 21 can legally possess and use small amounts, but said there is still confusion over the rules among people in the community.
“Just know that it’s still not legal to be smoking in public, you can only have up on an ounce on your person and I would absolutely not recommend transporting marijuana in vehicles because you could run into issues with that," she said.
Toscano law firm, along with Norfolk’s incoming Commonwealth’s Attorney, are holding a Town Hall on Facebook on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Anyone can log on and ask questions. Click here to watch.
“Our goal tonight is to educate the public, help them navigate these new confusing laws and really just provide clarification and the answers we can provide the questions they may have,” explained Cournoyer.
Norfolk’s incoming Commonwealth’s Attorney, Ramin Fatehi released a statement ahead of the town hall. He said the rules are in place to keep people safe.
"Marijuana legalization is good for public safety and good for human rights," he said. "But, as with alcohol, Virginians over 21 who choose to use marijuana must do so legally, responsibly, and with respect for their fellow citizens.”
The law firm shared more information about the new marijuana laws. For more information, visit their website.
- A person may grow four plants, but they are prohibited from buying the seeds or cuttings from which the plants would grow.
- A driver with an “open container” of marijuana found in the car can be presumed under the influence. Open containers include any container other than an original sealed manufacturer’s container, and because retail sales have not begun in Virginia, there is simply no lawful way to transport marijuana.
- If you must travel with marijuana, keep it in the trunk.
- Virginians cannot smoke in any public place, and marijuana plants must be kept from public view (even away from front windows).
- To be clear, the sale of marijuana remains illegal in the Commonwealth until 2024, and today there are limits on possession. Possessing more than one pound can result in felony charges, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.